Subject: AP: Indonesia Moves E. Timor Referendum Up A Day To Aug. 7
Date: Sat, 22 May 1999 10:26:24 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

May 21, 1999 Indonesia Moves E. Timor Referendum Up A Day To Aug. 7

Dow Jones Newswires

JAKARTA (AP)--The U.N.-supervised referendum on the future of East Timor has been moved up a day to Aug. 7 to avoid a conflict with a Christian holiday, Indonesian Minister of State Secretary Muladi said Friday.

The vote will give the troubled territory a choice between becoming an autonomous state within predominantly Muslim Indonesia or full independence.

Some fear escalating violence could postpone or sink the vote that is to be supervised by the United Nations under an agreement between Portugal, East Timor's former colonial master, and Indonesia, which invaded in 1975.

It was not immediately clear whether Portugal, a predominantly Roman Catholic country, agreed with the new date. Speaking in Macau, Foreign Minister Jaime Gama said Indonesia could not "unilaterally change" an international agreement.

But Prime Minister Antonio Guterres said the issue was not the day, but "whether there are conditions for the referendum to be held."

"Portugal will never accept a ballot if it is not held in absolute freedom and with no intimidation," Guterres told reporters in Lisbon.

The U.N. plans to send about 300 foreign police officers to the half-island territory to advise Indonesian police, who will have responsibility for law and order. Hundreds of poll monitors and other U.N. officials also will be sent in.

Indonesia said Thursday it will allow Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos Horta to visit for the first time in more than two decades for unprecedented talks with jailed East Timorese guerrilla leader Jose Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao.

The meeting is supposed to take place in Jakarta sometime before the referendum.

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